4. Earthsea


We see several new islands of Earthsea, but also hear a lot more about the history and culture of the world than in previous books.

What locations stood out to you?

Were there any pieces of history or cultural practices that made an impression?


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    With this question I find myself at a bit of a disadvantage. I've already read another book since finishing this one, so although I remember remarking on some setting elements, I can not longer remember what struck me. Perhaps some more comments will jog my memory...

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    The people of the open sea, with their raft-based life, were hugely evocative for me or the transience and splendour of life: "The dance is always danced above the hollow place, above the terrible abyss".

    And the Dragon's Run, with the dragons "soaring and circling on the morning wind... I do not care what comes next: I have seen the dragons on the wind of morning".

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    This thread is a good a place as any to comment, that every time I reread the EarthSea books I am somewhat overwhelmed by Ursula LeGuin's capacity with language. I find books 2, 3 and 5 profoundly emotionally stirring (it's a long time sine I read #4, but maybe next year we'll do this?).

    The same is true of a few of her other books, especially The Dispossessed and The Left Hand of Darkness, but not all - I am currently listening to The Word for World is Forest and don't have the same reaction to that (perhaps because I'm listening to a narrator rather than absorbing her choice of words first-hand?)

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    Hort Town as an interesting place for me. I thought le Guin did a good job of showing both what the town was like in the past and contrasting it with what it's like now (the hazia addicts, the wizards without power). Similarly, Lorbanery showed the impact of the loss of magic on a community; it wasn't just the loss of livelihood, but also the loss of of the fabric of the community. (And was that pun intended?)

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    It had been many years since I’d read this book. The one thing that stayed with me all that time was Children of the Open Sea and their dance above the abyss. I love how their culture is so different from that of the Archipelago, but also follows many of the same traditions. Good stuff.

    I like the plain, workaday nature of Hort Town and Lorbanery. In a world with magic in it, I like seeing the way that it interacts with people’s everyday lives. Both in the breaking of magic resulting in a breaking of government in Hort Town, and the way that Lobanery’s silk-makers show that there’s no bright line between skill and spell, it’s a continuum.

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